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Michigan Executive Order 2020-153: Face Masks

Recently, Governor Gretchen Whitmer enacted Executive Order 2020-153, which added minor changes to EO 2020-147. Most notably, this Executive Order requires all people leaving their place of residence to wear a mask or face covering. The order also places more responsibility on business owners, who can no longer accept the assumption that an unmasked customer cannot medically tolerate a face covering. It's important for businesses to check with their customers who are not wearing face coverings to verify that indeed they cannot medically tolerate one. Face masks and the enforcements of them have been a hot topic since this pandemic began. I've received many questions from concerned individuals, clients, and HR professionals relating to this issue. Thus, in this article, I am going to provide some practical tips for business owners who may encounter a customer or patron not wearing a face covering.

Through the main course of this pandemic, business owners have not been given clear guidance on how to enforce these situations or respond to them. However, we now have some guidance from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), which is the branch of government that enforces civil rights type violations. For example, the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act and Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The MDCR has said that there are essentially three options that business owners can refer to.

Option 1: Offering Alternatives

This option would be for customers or patrons that are not wearing a facemask. Consider providing them with an alternative. Examples may include: carryout-service versus dine-in; or curb-side pick-up.

Option 2: Make an Accommodation

An individual may indicate that they are suffering from a medical condition or disability and are unable to wear a face mask. According to the MDCR, businesses may consider engaging in an interactive process with that individual. This would be to determine if there's a reasonable accommodation to their policies and practices that can be made to accommodate them--while still being able to access their services. This could include the previously discussed alternatives, as well as individuals perhaps to consider wearing a face shield or something similar in lieu of a standard face mask.

Option 3: Allow

Businesses may encounter individuals with medical issues or disabilities that do not have any other reasonable accommodation or alternative. Businesses may allow them to access their services. However, for individuals that do not fall into one of the categories that is allowed under Executive Order 2020-153, businesses can refuse service to them, while allowing service to the people that fall under the provisions of this order.

In summary, there are multiple layers to this Executive Order. Furthermore, the only provision giving an individual the ability to not wear a face mask out in public is if the face mask or covering cannot be medically tolerated.

Feel free to consider looking up EO 2020-153 and stay tuned for more videos and blogs from Fausone Bohn, LLP. We will continue to keep the business community informed during this global health crisis.

Fausone Bohn, LLP is your premiere Business Law Firm based in Western-Wayne County and serving clients throughout the State of Michigan. Brandon Grysko focuses his representation on Human Resource Professionals, Business Owners, and Labor Relations Professionals. Brandon can be reached at (734) 536-2926 or email: [email protected].

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